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Published in: Chi Carmody, Frank Garcia, and John Linarelli eds., Global Justice and International Economic Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012).


This paper explores the idea that distributive justice in the multilateral trade regime is best served, at the moment, by democratizing its governance procedures. Part I of this paper focuses on the explanatory question - from a trade and development perspective, how can we understand the breakdown in Doha negotiations? This paper draws attention to institutional dynamics exacerbating the current stalemate. In answering that question, Part I draws from two disparate methodological traditions, which can be described as "economistic" and "constructivist." Constructivist analysis suggests a focus on the discursive subtexts that constitute the identity and interests of participating states. With that focus, it becomes clear that a variety of discursive contradictions have intensified over recent years, deeply destabilizing the WTO as a context for deliberation and political resolution. Economistic analysis, as applied here, focuses on the transaction costs confronting institutional coordination. Beyond the explanatory perspective, however, some normative inquiry into the basis for a proceduralist approach is desirable, especially when illustrious recent applications of moral theory to distributive justice have called for the institutionalization of strong substantive principles. Part II will consider two substantive arguments for distributive justice, in the context of the multilateral trade regime: Frank Garcia's argument for S&D as a Rawlsian application of the "international difference principle"; and Carol Gould's call for human rights, and especially social and economic rights, as a basis for grounding global economic justice. Part III studies emerging "equality jurisprudence" in the GATT/WTO. The "legalization" of the trade regime has resulted in the adoption of an equality, or non-discrimination, doctrinal foundation for the judicialized decision-making of the dispute settlement wing of the WTO, over and above the "reciprocity" model that characterizes WTO negotiations.

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Distributive justice, World Trade Organization, developing countries, John Rawls, constructivism